Computer generated image of Fortress Mountain, AB.

USask developed hydrologic computer model selected as award finalist

The Canadian Hydrological Model, developed by USask researchers, selected as a finalist for the 2021 STIC project awards.

One of the most advanced snow computer models in the world (The Canadian Hydrological Model) is a finalist for the 2021 Science, Technology, Innovation and Community (STIC) Project award. The project award is given to a project that has the potential to contribute significantly to its sector.  

The Canadian Hydrological Model (CHM) was developed by USask researchers Christopher Marsh, John Pomeroy, Howard Wheater, Raymond Spiteri, Vincent Vionnet, Kevin Green, and Nicholas Wayand. The goal of the model is to provide accurate and computationally efficient predictions of snow and water resources in complex landscapes. CHM represents a cutting-edge snowpack prediction tool and leadership in computational research technology.   

Why such a detailed hydrological model, you might wonder?  

Mountain headwaters or mountain snowpacks are a critical source of freshwater. Across the world, mountain snowpacks provide freshwater to over half of humanity. The CHM interfaces with federal weather models to calculate how snowfall varies, how snow is blown by the wind and falls in avalanches and how fast it melts. All while taking into consideration topography, slope, aspect and forest cover. It takes full advantage of high-end computing resources, parallel processing and supercomputers to calculate the seasonal snowpack at a 50 m resolution detail for regions as large as Western Canada. As a result, a version of CHM coupled with federal weather forecasts can provide high-resolution, high-fidelity snowpack forecasts for the mountains of Western Canada. In addition, this product will help the western provinces better predict and manage their water supply.  

However, researchers don’t plan to limit their model just to Western Canada. Instead, researchers plan to expand the model to include Spain, France and High Mountain Asia, where the Pyrenees, Himalayas, Hindu Kush, Pamirs, and Tien Shien mountains provide fresh water to billions of people.  

The award presentation will be at the STIC Awards reception on Thursday, December 2nd, at the World Trade Center Saskatoon, Prairieland Park.  

Find out more about the STIC awards here.

And about the CHM model here.